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Selling Selena Gomez – Harmony Korine And SPRING BREAKERS
I’m guessing that at some point during the evolution of Harmony Korine’s forthcoming film Spring Breakers, it occurred to somebody that recruiting a teen sensation of the ilk of, say, Selena Gomez might bring a little hype to Korine’s off-the-beaten path heist movie. It occurs to me that this moment occurred at some point closer to the conception of the project than the point at which the rest of the cast was selected.
I don’t make it a secret that I find Harmony Korine to be a cheap provacateur and purveyor of utter shit. It is a merciful fact that Korine has not been granted more opportunities to ply his sweaty, cum-stained worldview than he already has, but it is a fact that does nothing to right the sad error of his emergence into the culture back in the mid-’90s. Harmony Korine’s initial contribution to cinema was 1995′s Kids, which he wrote. Among other things, the film tracked an HIV-positive teenager who chooses to essentially weaponize himself by way of an intentional odyssey of unprotected sex.
Which, by the way, is fine with me. I don’t object to the premise of the picture. In fact, I think on the basis of concept, Kids had an opportunity to initiate an intelligent conversation about basic issues of ethics and empathy to an audience that really could have used it at the time.
But Kids was a blunt instrument with an ear and an eye for style, drugs, and violence, and no conscience to speak of. Instead of tuning the public into an alarming trend within the behavior of American youth, Kids essentially depicted American teens as drug-addled, flesh-eating zombies best kept at a distance. Naturally, the film was lauded critically and was labeled by the New York Times to be a “wake-up call to the world.”
In the end? Kids didn’t provoke a discussion about anything other than Kids.
But whatever. My criticism is pointless scrotum-jiggling at this point. Kids exists and so does Gummo and half of those who have seen both pictures find them to be incredibly relevant and thought-provoking works of art, and most everybody else has forgotten about them altogether. Korine has moved on to bigger game now:
See that? That’s America’s sweetheart-or-whatever, the aforementioned Selena Gomez, looking all stony and put out and utterly ’90s sitting high and dry with her hot friends in a jail cell, lamenting the status quo.
This summer’s gonna be different, seems to be the thrust here. Fuck the status quo.
So why would Selena Gomez do it? Gomez, a Disney product, has millions on the hook in “music” and merchandising and DVD/Blu-Ray residuals. She’s a household name. Her posters serve as wallpaper in the bedrooms of millions of adolescent girls in this country. No bullshit. Genuine teen idol, here.
Is it just to try something new? Can Selena do with Spring Breakers what Miley Cyrus attempted to do with a bong a few years back: cross over onto the radar of an adult audience? It seems to me that’s what the calculation is.
But how much play does a Harmony Korine flick really get?
And really, what does Korine hope to gain from this collaboration? Nobody from Gomez’ core audience is going to be getting in line for Spring Breakers, and nobody from Korine’s ironically-bearded fan base gives two shits less about a well-behaved zygote like Gomez or her slightly senior co-star, Vanessa Hudgens. From a standpoint of pure publicity, this would be akin to using Martha Stewart as a pitchwoman for Triumph Motorcycles.
So what’s the endgame? A shitstorm of controversy? Of course. Lots of talk of role models and the selling of sex and violence to teenagers? You can be sure. Lots of talk about what a simply brilliant picture Spring Breakers is?
I kinda doubt it, and the early reviews from the festivals are bearing my suspicions out. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I will recuse myself from viewing Spring Breakers, if only because I like working myself into a state of self-righteous indignation, and then writing about it. My biggest disappointment would be that the film turns out to be just a silly flick about a bunch of rotten kids acting out in an extreme fashion.